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December 20, 2014

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Las Vegas’ carbon footprint surprisingly small

A report released today by the Brookings Institution ranked the country's 100 largest metro areas by their carbon emissions.

The report found that regions with high density, compact development and rail transit leave smaller "carbon footprints" on the planet than sprawling cities that rely on car traffic.

Still, Las Vegas ranked 18th on the list behind more stereotypically enviro-friendly cities such as Seattle, Wash. (rank 6th), Portland, Ore. (rank 3rd) and San Francisco, Calif. (rank 8th).

According to the study, Las Vegas' carbon emission from transportation and residential buildings actually decreased from 2000 to 2005, although the study's authors on Wednesday cautioned that carbon counting methods weren't as thorough in 2000. They urged readers to take that data with a grain of salt.

The study also said the average resident in metropolitan Las Vegas emitted 2.013 metric tons of carbon from highway transportation and residential energy in 2005, compared with 2.24 tons of carbon emitted by the average 100-metro resident and 2.60 tons of carbon emitted by the average American. The average Las Vegas resident emitted 1.032 tons of carbon from highway transportation (rank 9th) - 0.845 tons from autos (rank 12th) and 0.186 tons from trucks (rank 13th) - and 0.981 tons of carbon from residential energy use (rank 33rd).

The worst urban emitters lived in Lexington, Ky., Indianapolis, Ind. and Cincinnati, Ohio.

View the full report here. Las Vegas is on page 48.

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